Will adding these moving blankets to my recording booth kill me?
April 15, 2020 7:40 AM   Subscribe

I ordered Stalwart moving blankets for the walls of my 4X4' recording booth to dampen sound, but upon arrival they have a warning about cancer and reproductive harm. I won't be in physical contact with them but should I be concerned about breathing the air of the confined space for an hour or so a day? (picture of the warning sticker)
posted by Mikey51 to Health & Fitness (11 answers total)
Ah, prop 65 warnings. So many good intentions, so little granularity.
posted by Glomar response at 7:50 AM on April 15, 2020 [8 favorites]

It’s a CA Proposition 65 warning, which can be all sorts of chemicals- my wild guess is a fire retardant.
posted by zamboni at 7:51 AM on April 15, 2020 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Here's a detailed article about the history of Prop 65 warnings. The upshot is that there's a lot of incentive for companies to put the warning on a ton of things that aren't really dangerous, and so there's no way to know if something with a warning is actually going to kill you or if the manufacturer is just protecting themselves from a possible lawsuit.
posted by theodolite at 7:55 AM on April 15, 2020 [4 favorites]

I grew up in California. Practically every product you can find in a hardware store has this warning on it.

Is that concerning in a general sense? Yes, a bit.

Does that mean these blankets are any more dangerous than hundreds of other things you interact with on a daily basis? Probably not.
posted by mekily at 7:58 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I think you’ll be fine. Last time I was in California I stayed in a hotel (a pretty nice one) and this warning was up in the entryway. The entire hotel was, under prop 65, potentially hazardous to my health!
posted by Secretariat at 8:30 AM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

First time I visited San Jose I was disconcerted to find one of those notices on the wall of the arrivals lounge at the airport. Quite the dystopian welcome for an exhausted long-distance traveller.

Regarding the blanket, I wouldn't worry about it - and I'm the kind of person who worries about everything.
posted by ManyLeggedCreature at 8:48 AM on April 15, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just for further context, in California there are Prop 65 warnings in Starbucks, because the process of baking and roasting could potentially create compounds that may or may not cause cancer. There are Prop 65 warnings on my hand saw, because if I were to cut something carcinogenic with that saw, then I may be exposed to said carcinogen. There's a Prop 65 warning on my electrical adapter, because the process of making that plastic uses a toxic reagent. Said reagent does not appear in the final product, because, y'know, chemistry but they still put the warning on to avoid getting sued.

Lawsuits about missing Prop 65 warnings have been a profitable niche for certain lawyers & groups, so companies put them on everything regardless of actual risk.

The presence of a Prop 65 warning tells you absolutely nothing about your actual risk from a given product -- it may contain genuinely dangerous compounds, or it may not, you have no idea and there's basically no way to tell.

In the end, it's generally best to just pretend you never saw that warning, or you'll never be able to do anything.
posted by aramaic at 9:08 AM on April 15, 2020 [9 favorites]

My workplace had been threatened by several lawyers because we weren't putting those stickers on our products. Now we put them on everything, regardless of what it is, to avoid any future issues. This is the new "Caution-Hot" to avoid lawsuits. Take it with a grain of salt.
posted by Kimothy at 9:46 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

I grew up in California. Practically every product you can find in a hardware store has this warning on it.

Yes, these warnings show up all the time even in Canada. As far as I'm concerned everything is known to cause cancer in the State of California, and I guess everything probably does cause cancer with enough time and a large enough dose so the warning isn't exactly incorrect.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 11:20 AM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Prop 65 is the best example we need that direct democracy puts the dumbest people in charge.

The short explanation is that in the early 80’s, California voters passed a very poorly worded proposition, and 35ish later we still suffer for it. While informing consumers about potential cancer causing compounds is good, not defining “potential”, “cancer causing”, and “compounds” very well has led to just about everything getting a prop 65 warning label.

My guess is that your blanket contains synthetic fibers, and if you were to make them a considerable portion of your diet for the next decades, maybe you would get cancer from them.
posted by sideshow at 10:56 PM on April 15, 2020 [1 favorite]

Speaking as a Californian, I refer to Prop 65 as the Joe Jackson law: 🎶 Everything... everything gives you cancer 🎶 There's no cure, there's no answer 🎶 Everything gives you cancer 🎶

Don't chew the walls and you'll probably be fine.
posted by Lexica at 8:49 AM on April 18, 2020 [1 favorite]

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